Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Jamaica urged to keep ganja debate going

Published:Friday | November 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM

HANNA HETZER, member of the Drug Policy Alliance in the United States (US), has charged Jamaicans to be bold in their actions as the debate continues about the legalisation of marijuana.

Speaking at the roundtable launch - 'The Road to United Nations General Assembly Special Session 2016: The International War on Drugs', which was hosted by the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Hetzer said it will take team effort to accomplish what is best for Jamaica.

"The US has 25 per cent of the world's prison population and we encountered unjust experiences for small uses of the drug. African American males especially have been to jail up to 89 times compared to that of white males, among other acts," she told the gathering on Wednesday.

Hetzer added "Non-violent drug possession was, for a very long time, used as an avenue through which many persons were oppressed. However, things are changing. There are now 23 states with legal medical marijuana, and last week, Washington, DC, joined Colorado to legalise recreational adult use of marijuana," she continued.

Positive rewards

Hetzer said these actions have reaped positive rewards. "We have a huge dip in incarceration, we have increased state revenue that has contributed greatly towards health and educational programmes. There has also been a decrease in crime, and we continue to monitor the impact," she said.

"We have to be constantly monitoring and evaluating, because that is important in a bid to ensure that are no negative spin-offs. The world is changing and I'm excited to see what Jamaica is going to do as the days progress, and I implore you to keep the debate going," she charged.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com